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'I've not seen a chip since we started'

You can still have a pizza at Ardeer primary but it's got a wholemeal base and is made with fresh tomatoes and low fat cheese. It is accompanied by a portion of raw chopped vegetables or fruit - and on this occasion a hungry minister, as Cathy Jamieson and celebrity chef Nick Nairn paid a visit.

"The way the meals are made now, the children do not even know they are eating healthily. At first the children looked sideways and said they were not going to eat that. Now they do. I've not seen a chip since we started," Linda Crone, headteacher of the North Ayrshire school, says.

The pilot scheme is only in its fourth week and Mrs Crone believes it is already making a huge difference. Presentation and layout have been changed in the dining hall as part of a make-over which began after staff voiced concerns about a contradiction between what was taught through the health education curriculum and the poor quality of lunches.

"It was food you would not eat," Mrs Crone says. "They are now being treated as young consumers and what they consume matters. It's important to teach about choice and give them healthy options, although cake and custard is still there. You cannot chain them to the table leg and make them just eat the healthy stuff."

Extra money for school sport has gone to special tuition in ice skating, curling and golf. In the new year, there will be aerobics.

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